March Rallies and City Council Resolution Celebrate Sacco and Vanzetti Commemoration Day
BOSTON/North End - On Saturday, 30 people marched from Copley Square to the Paul Revere Mall in the North End to commemorate the 81st anniversary of the execution of Italian-American anarchist organizers Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. Rallies at both ends of the march celebrated their lives, and mourned their deaths. The event was organized by the Boston-based Sacco and Vanzetti Appreciation Society.
According to the Appreciation Society's website, "Sacco and Vanzetti were Italian immigrants and anarchists. They were accused of the murder of a shoe factory paymaster and guard and were convicted in 1921 in an atmosphere of anti-radical and racist hysteria. In 1927 they were executed in Boston despite widespread belief in their innocence and a huge movement protesting the sentence."
Though the facts of the case are still debated among legal scholars and jurists to this day, labor and immigrant activists - particularly in the Boston area - have long held up the pair as victims of a political witch hunt.
Event organizer Pasqualino Colombaro began his remarks at the Copley Square rally by quoting one of Vanzetti's last statements, "'Our words - our lives - our pains - nothing. The taking of our lives - all. That last moment belongs to us - that agony is our triumph.'"
Colombaro continued, "And it is because of that triumph that we are here today, recalling the miracle and the outrage of it, while making sure to link up the political and economic conditions that gave rise to that event to the analogous conditions Americans have been experiencing at least since the victory of Ronald Reagan at the 1980 presidential elections.
"We must note however that for unprotected illegal immigrants, unorganized workers, indigenous people, ethnic minorities, the poor, the critics and opponents of the system of ‘democratic capitalism’, conditions have remained unaltered through time."
Dorotea Manuela of the Rosa Parks Human Rights Day Coalition agreed, "How strangely reminiscent are today’s events. Arabs are kidnapped from the streets of you fill in the blanks and confined in secret prisons or are shipped to Guantanamo where they rot without hearing or trial. We do not even need the sham trials of Sacco and Vanzetti."
At the conclusion of the Paul Revere Mall rally, Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner (G/R-District 7) read a "Resolution Regarding Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti Commemoration Day" - which began by stating that the pair were found guilty "by a clearly prejudiced and biased judge of the Commonwealth" and concluded by saying that "... the Boston City Council herein assembled extends its admiration and congratulations to the Sacco and Vanzetti Commemoration Society, and in honor of its many contributions, does hereby declare August 23, 2008 Sacco and Vanzetti Commemoration Day in the City of Boston."
The Appreciation Society is raising funds for the construction of a Sacco and Vanzetti Memorial in the North End - the heart of Italian-American Boston for the last several decades. In 2007, the Society rededicated a historical marker for Sacco and Vanzetti at 256 Hanover St., the former headquarters of the Sacco and Vanzetti Defense Committee. An earlier marker, part of the Freedom Trail, was placed in 1976, but disappeared in the early 1980s.
The full text of the City Council resolution and information about how to donate to the Sacco and Vanzetti Memorial can be found at the Appreciation Society website, http://saccoandvanzetti.org.
An audio report on this event by Chuck Rosina can be found at Boston Indymedia.